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Thursday, December 14, 2017

How a Crisis Can Bring About Positive Change in Your Life

Sooner or later in life, everyone has to cope with a crisis.  It doesn't matter how much you try to avoid crises, they are an unfortunate part of life.  Sometimes, you can see a crisis coming in advance and prepare for it (see my article: Fear of Making ChangesStanding at the Crossroad: Fear of Making Major Life Decisions and Preparing Emotionally For Major Changes in Your Life).  Other times, a crisis occurs when you least expect it.  But in many cases crises can be opportunities to make changes that are, ultimately, for the better.

How a Crisis Can Bring About Positive Change in Your Life

People who are able to reframe crises into a possibility for an opportunity are better able to get through the chaos that crisis often brings (see my article: Developing a Positive Perspective About Reframing).

Let's take a look at some fictional scenarios, which represent common occurrences, that illustrates these points:

How a Crisis Can Bring About Positive Change in Your Life

Jim
Jim worked as a senior manager for his firm for over 25 years.  He had a good relationship with his boss and with his colleagues, who praised his work.  He thought he would ride out his last years at this company until retirement and then he planned to start his own consulting business.  But a few years before Jim planned to retire, he was laid off due to budget cuts.  His boss and his human resources director assured him that it had nothing to do with the quality of his work.

At first, Jim was paralyzed in fear.  He wasn't sure what he would do.  So much of his identity was tied up with his job (see my article: When Job Loss Means Loss of Identity).  When he told his wife about the layoff, she encouraged Jim to start his consulting company now and "Go for it!"  Although he was afraid, at first, within a year, he was making more money in his consulting business than he made at his former job, and he had more time to spend with his family.  So, what he initially experienced as a crisis turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

Betty
Betty was in a stagnant relationship that was going nowhere for a few years.  Although she wanted to get married and have children, she was afraid to leave her current relationship because she thought she would never meet anyone else.  Her rationale was, "The devil you know is better than the devil you don't know" and so she remained in this unhappy relationship (see my article: Are You Too Afraid to Leave an Unhappy Relationship?).  One evening, over dinner, her boyfriend, Ted, told her that he wanted to breakup.  He accepted a job out of state, and he didn't want to have a long distance relationship, so he thought it was better to end their relationship.  At first, Betty panicked.  Even though she was dissatisfied with the relationship, at least she had someone to have dinner with and to go to the theatre.  Now, she would have no one.  During the first few months after the breakup, Betty mourned the end of her relationship.

How a Crisis Can Bring About Positive  Change in Your Life

Shortly after that, a close friend introduced her to someone new, John.  After dating for a few months, Betty and her new boyfriend decided to be exclusive, and she realized that she was happier in this relationship than she had ever been.  Had she and Ted remained together, she would never started dating John.  What initially felt like a major crisis in her life turned out to be a positive change.

Donna
Donna had always enjoyed good health for most of her life.  But shortly after her 40th birthday, she had a mild heart attack and was hospitalized.  After she was discharged, her cardiologist spoke to her about her stressful lifestyle, including a stressful job that she hated and an unhealthy diet where she mostly ate on the run.  He told her that she would have to make changes to her lifestyle or she could have a massive heart attack, especially since there was a history of heart problems in her family (see my article: How Medical Problems Can Change How You Feel About Yourself).

Donna spoke with her husband about the changes she was thinking about--including leaving her stressful job.  Her husband encouraged her to do what she had always wanted to do--become a yoga teacher.  So, when she quit her job, and when her cardiologist gave his approval, Donna began a yoga training program.  Soon after she completed the yoga training, she began working for a local yoga studio, a job that she loved.  In retrospect, she realized that she probably would never have quit her stressful job to do what she really wanted if she had not had the heart attack.

Conclusion
Making changes in your life, even under the best of circumstances, can be challenging.  We often become comfortable with what's familiar, even if it's not what we want.

Making changes during a crisis is even more challenging because we're often not prepared for the crisis.  It can be like a tsunami that comes upon us suddenly.  

Being flexible, being able to reframe a crisis into an opportunity (if possible), and having emotional support can help you to make positive changes. 

But there are times when the crisis is so overwhelming that it is traumatic.

In other words, it's beyond what you can handle, and you might need help from a skilled mental health professional to help you to get through the crisis and come out of it more resilient than before.

Getting Help in Therapy
Everyone needs help at some point in his or her life.

Sometimes, friends and family, who are well-meaning, aren't helpful because they're part of the crisis or they're fearful of change so they can't see opportunities or alternatives.

When you're overwhelmed by a crisis, you could benefit from working with a skilled mental health professional who can help you to recognize your strengths and help you to regroup (see my article: The Benefits of Therapy).

Rather than struggling on your own, if you feel overwhelmed by a crisis in your life, seek help from an experienced psychotherapist who can help you to overcome the current obstacles so you can live a more fulfilling life (see my article: How to Choose a Psychotherapist).

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works with individual adults and couples (see my article: The Therapeutic Benefits of Integrative Psychotherapy).

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

I have helped many clients to overcome their problems so they could maximize their potential and live the life they want to live.

To set up a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006 or email me.